3 Nights in Madrid

After our wonderful week in Palma and saying goodbye to Henry and Luann, we headed off to 3 nights in Madrid.   This is unique to our trip so far in that it was our shortest day in a city and our first stay at a hostel this trip.

We took a morning flight from Palma direct into Madrid.   After landing we bought our metro cards and hopped on the train to head to the Way Hostel, our home for the next 3 nights.    The hostel turned out to be in a great location, walking distance from a lot of sights, and close to a Metro stop that would get you anywhere else.    The hostel was full the nights we were there which lead to a fun atmosphere at night.   Met some new friends each night thanks to the reasonably priced beer they served, 1 Euro for a can, 2 Euro for a bottle of craft.

After dropping our bags off, we headed off in search of lunch and stumbled into a Venezuelan restaurant, Cacao Restobar.    Some tasty tasty Arepas there!

After lunch we explored the city some more and then got in line at the famous Prado museum.   The Prado is free after 6pm which gives you about 2 hours to explore before closing.   We got in line around 5:40pm and were in the museum by 6:15pm.    I loved loved loved the Black Paintings by Goya there.   Chrissy kept pointing out famous painting after famous painting.   It is such a cool awesome museum, highly recommended to check out if you are in Madrid.

That night we ended up just hanging out at the hostel chatting with other travelers.

The next day we joined a free walking tour of Madrid.    This was a great intro to the City as we visited the main tourist spots and got a great background on the City.

After the tour we joined some of our tour mates for lunch at Rosi La Loca where we had a tasty lunch.   Ed had a delicious Iberian sirloin.

After lunch we continued exploring and found ourselves in the giant amazing park: Parque del Buen Retiro.   This is a huge park, over 350 acres and over 15,000 trees!   It is a very cool park with several famous ponds, fountains, buildings.

It is also know to have one of the few public art displays that features the Devil, the Fuente del Angel Caido or Fountain of the Fallen Angel.  The fountain depicts the angel on his fall from heaven.

That night Ed was excited to check our a beer bar with an amazing name:  Craft Against the Machine.    This was an excellent beer bar with a very knowledgeable bar tender.   It was a great way to end our second night in Madrid.

Our last full day in Madrid we scheduled to join a street art tour.   This ended up being one of our favorite tours we have taken.    Our guide was very passionate and knowledgeable and we were lucky there was only one other couple in our group.   This allowed us to ask tons of questions and the guided even extended the 3 hour tour into over 4 hours to keep showing us more art.    Here’s a few of the many many cool street art pieces in Madrid.

After our street art tour, we took the train up out of the old part of town into a very cool neighborhood on the north side of Madrid.   There we had an late lunch at Sale De Despiece.   Ed arranged for us to have a tasting menu in their private room, a converted meat locker.   This was a great meal where many of the dishes were at your table.  Below is one course, the caprese bruschetta.  The chef comes out and combines all the ingredients tableside.

After our late lunch (Spainards usually have lunch as their main meal and  was definitely our case this day), we explored the neighborhood of Chamberi.    We found the main market and enjoyed looking around.  Eventually we made our way to a very small brewery.   This was fun because on a Thursday early evening the brewery was hosting a kids birthday party.

The next morning we had a quick but tasty breakfast at a place near our hostel and hopped on a train to San Sebastian!   Our great 7 days there will be our next post.

Our week in Palma Mallorca!

Hello again, this time from Lisbon, Portugal!  This post is a quick recap of our week in Palma, aka, the last week with Henry and LuAnn joining us.

Flying out of Barcelona on Sunday, we needed to swing by the hotel Henry and Lu would be staying at on their way home to store mom’s larger suitcase she wouldn’t need while in Palma.   Giving ourselves plenty of time for everything, we ended up at the airport with a few hours to spare.   Using my priority pass that came with the Chase Sapphire card, I was able to get us all into one of the Airport lounges.   After a few drinks and snack we head down to the gate for our flight.   Unfortunately, checking the screen for our gate number we see our flight is cancelled.   Being used to US airlines we were expecting a long ordeal but a quick trip to the customer service agent had us all on the next flight out in 2 hours and a coupon to go grab a drink and a snack at any bar/restaurant we wanted.

We finally arrived in Palma that evening and checked into our AirBnb which was right off of Plaza Mayor.   Perfect location for our week!   Sunday night we all were in the mood for pizza and so ended our first night at an Italian restaurant.

Monday we had dinner plans with Chrissy’s cousin Melissa and her husband Thomas who live in Palma.   During the day we wondered around town, hit the supermarket for breakfast foods, snacks, and wine, and also checked out a great little craft beer store where we stocked up with Spanish craft beers.

That night we met with Melissa and Thomas and had a excellent meal with them.   They gave us great advice at what to do.

On Tuesday, the weather was not cooperating as it was very rainy.  With sunshine expected the rest of the week, we decided to make this a stay in our neighborhood day.   For lunch, we took a recommendation from Thomas, for burgers at Badal.    I am a self-professed burger snob but these burgers would fit right in my top 10 burgers.

After our late lunch we hung out in Plaza Mayor.   This area always had a lot of activity and pop up shops and street performers.  The rest of the night was relaxation and a few drinks.

The next day was sunny again so we decided to check out the hop-on hop-off bus since we enjoyed in Barcelona so much.   Unfortunately, this one was not very good besides giving us transportation up to Bellver Castle.   This is a very interesting castle with a cool history of being used as a stronghold and even a prison at different times.   Great views from the top as well.

We then took the bus to the main cathedral in town and discovered a local beer festival on a plaza near the water.

We got to try beers from all over Palma and the weather was just perfect.   It turned out to be a great day!

The next day, Thursday, another recommendation from Melissa and Thomas, the historic train to Soller and the Port of Soller.

The port is absolutely beautiful.   We wondered around checking out the various beaches, boats, and scenery.

We ended up having lunch at an awesome seafood restaurant, Kingfisher.   Everyone from our tuna, to shrimp, to whole fish, was just perfect.

Was an awesome day getting to see the other side of the island!

The next day was very bitter sweet for us as in past years we would have been in Louisville for the Kentucky Oaks.   So of course, when we heard that Palma has harness racing that Friday, we had to go.

While this was not the same as being in Louisville, we ended up having a great time.   One good thing is a round of drinks for the 4 of us basically cost us about 1/3 of a cost of a Lilly at Churchill Downs.   Henry actually ended up cashing a winning ticket on a 12-1 shot which covered out taxi rides and drinks!

In the late afternoon we ended up at a sports bar in Palma, Bar 11 and had some delicious food and drinks.    That night we just went back to our AirBnb and ended up watching the Kentucky Oaks on my laptop around midnight.

Saturday ended up being another raining day for us so we caught up on laundry and relaxed.   We did have an great tapas lunch at Bar Espana.  We basically tried almost everything on their menu.

Saturday night was the Kentucky Derby, so again we fired up the tablet and the laptop and bet the races from our AirBnb.   Henry and I did end up taking a break though and finally got him a gin and tonic.

All over Spain people were advertising Gin and Tonics and we learned it is a drink craze over most of western Europe.

Sunday was our last full day in Palma so we went for a walk to explore the City some more.   That night, we joined up with Melissa and Thomas again for yet another wonderful meal.   We ended up eating, drinking, and chatting for almost 5 hours.   It was a great way to end our time in Palma.

The next morning we took off for the Airport and had to say goodbye to Henry and Luann who were starting their trip back to the US.   We were flying into our next City, a quick 3 night stay in Madrid!   Promise to get that part of the trip up quicker on this blog then this one 🙂

Barcelona in Review

Hello from our last day here in Palma de Mallorca. Sorry blogging as been lacking but hopefully we can catch up today and our travel day to Madrid tomorrow.

We did post about our amazing first day in Barcelona, so here is the recap of our next 6 days there!

Day 2 we decided to try to hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus to give us an overview of the City.

This turned into an all day adventure with two different bus routes.   One cool thing about this Monday is that is was a holiday in Catalonia, Diada de Sant Jordi.   It is tradition to give roses and books to ones your love this day, so the entire City was filled with flower and book vendors everywhere.

Once we reached a super busy downtown-ish area, we stopped for a bottle of wine and a few tapas.   Everywhere we went in Barcelona had amazing food, from tiny hole in the walls to fancier places everything was so tasty!

After our quick drink and bite, back on the bus.  We took it everywhere in the City, stopping off every now and then.   We hit the mountain by the sea in Barcelona and took an awesome cable car to the top.

After our round trip up the mountain, we continued on our bus.   We did see all the major sites in one day and it really helped us plan the rest of our week so highly recommend the City Sightseeing bus in Barcelona.

That night we met us with some new friends from the Cruise, Craig and Jane, for drinks and dinner.   First a great beer bar, El Tap, that reminded me of home with the chalk board beer list.

Dinner was at a great Steak house with our new friends.   Wonderful meal and wine there too.

The next day, Tuesday, was finally a rest and relaxation day.   We visited the neighborhood grocery store and just explored more of our immediate area.   Wine at the grocery store is very cheap for pretty good wine.

Wednesday was our scheduled day to visit the Sagruda Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s super impressive church.   This was one of the most amazing buildings we have ever seen.   If you get a chance to visit, go for the ticket that also gives you access to one of the towers.   It was worth every euro we spent.   You can just buy tickets directly from the church’s website, there is no need for “skip the line” tours offered by other companies.    I’ll just show a few pictures to give you an idea but if you are ever in Barcelona, go!  Our pictures cannot do it justice.   (Yes, it is still under construction, scheduled to be finished by 2026)

Thursday was Chrissy’s and I’s schedule first super fancy, 3 Michelin Star, dinner at El Celler de Can Roca.   The restaurant is in a town about an hour north of Barcelona called Girona.    We took a high speed train from Barcelona directly to Girona.

Game of Thrones fans would recognize the old downtown area as Bravvos from the TV Show.   The town also has a church that was used at the Sept from Game of Thrones as well.

I’ll try to do a separate post going to in to details on our dinner later but in short it was one of the best dining experiences we have had.

Friday we took the train back to Barcelona and rejoined Henry and Luann.   This day we had tickets to go see Park Guell, a Guadi designed park.   The weather again was perfect and we had a great time exploring the park.   If you decide to go, I recommend buying tickets to see the Monument Park in advance as that  is where everything you see in photos of the park is.    The park sells out a lot of days as well.

Saturday, our last full day in Barcelona, we spent in the Gothic Quarter part of town.   The main feature here is the huge Gothic Cathedral.  There is also a huge, awesome market a few blocks away from the Cathedral.   We spent quite a bit of time walking around the market and then settled in at Bar Joan, a very busy tapas bar in the market.

After our normal mid day drink and food break, we continued walking down to the Arc de Triomf.   On a sunny weekend day, this area was packed with people, pop-up shops, and street performers.  Fun day to end our stay in Barcelona.

That night was dinner at a Steak house a block away from our AirBnb and like all our meals was fantastic.

The next morning we packed up and headed to the Airport to fly to Palma de Mallorca!

Barcelona was a great city to start our trip, we really loved the City, the food, the people, and the sites.   Definitely want to return one day.

Greetings from Barcelona!

Hello all!

Today is the morning of our second day in Barcelona Spain after arriving like some early 1900’s rich folk crossing the Atlantic on our cruise on the NCL Epic.    I will post later this week on our thoughts and adventures from the fun cruise once I organize 15 days of photos.

Our first day in Barcelona for the 4 of us was going to be a day of laundry and relaxation but you never know what will happen.   We got off our home for the last 2 weeks at around 9:30am.  After a quick cab ride we arrived at our AirBnB near the Sagrada Familia.   The place wasn’t quite ready for us but the owner did let us drop off our bags.    He also told us of a street festival going on in the neighborhood, so we were off to explore the City.    After a few blocks we stumbled into what reminded me of a typical summer Chicago street festival, streets closed and lined with stalls selling food, drink, and other things.   The main difference was there were many many many more selling food and drink than in Chicago.

After the first block (it turned out to be a huge street festival going about 4-5 blocks), we stumbled into our first pleasant surprise of Barcelona, country line dancing party.

After exploring the festival we started off to a cafe recommended by our AirBnB host.   We accidentally turned the wrong way and while taking a longer route stumbled into this:

Believe it our not, this used to be a hospital!  It is now a art and medical museum but was  a fully functioning hospital as late as 2009.   Opened in its current form in 2014.  Very neat building we stumbled into.

We did make it to the cafe, Puiggros, after that.  Sadly, I think we were all too hungry so no pics there, but they had an amazing apple tart that was delicious as well as very good small sandwiches and various breads.

We decided then just to take a stroll around the in-progress crazy beautiful Sagrada Familia  church.   We are planning a complete visit to that including touring the inside later this week.  I’ll post pictures then.

After that we started walking back to our home for this week, and we run straight into the start of a parade!

Those are gegants.  Super cool giant costumes that bob up and down.  They were originally used by the Catholic Church in the middle ages to teach Bible stories to a public that could not read.  Check out Chrissy’s Instagram for video – https://www.instagram.com/dinosonatrip/

All this and we we’re still not at our 3pm check-in time so we stop to sit outside to order a snack and a beer.  Dad and I ordered large beer thinking it would be a normal pint instead of half.  We were wrong.

We also ordered our first of what I will assume will be many orders of iberico ham.

After that, back to our rental to finally get to that rest and laundry.  At night we went to dinner at a place recommended by a friend in Chicago.  Amazing Italian pasta!

Everything is made by hand or imported directly from Italy.  Chrissy’s gnocchi with had truffles shaved on at the table.  Delicious lasanga and fresh caprese.  Perfect way to end our first day!

Content may be light this week as WiFi at our AirBnB is slow.  So might be posts without many pics.

 

 

The day is finally here!

We are waiting to board the NCL epic for our 15-day cruise over to Barcelona. The past two weeks have been great visiting family and friends. We celebrated our niece, Hazel’s, first birthday in Atlanta and spent the past week in Sarasota. Ed even snuck in a bachelor party in Vegas.

We can’t believe this day is actually here. Seems surreal that we won’t be back in the States for so long. Super excited and no turning back now 🙂

In itinerary news, we have official dates for Thailand. Josh and Rocio will joining us in Bangkok on December 28th and then spending New Year’s in Chang Mai. Still hoping for more meet ups so send us a message to join us somewhere!

Bye USA, see you in a year!

Goodbye Chicago

It’s our last night here in Chicago so we toasted with the last sips of our favorite beverages.   For Chrissy, a single barrel aged Tequila handpicked by Binny’s.   For Ed, it was the last of his wedding Pappy 23.

It is a tough goodbye.  It is the City we met, the City we married, the City we have so many awesome memories.

We will be sad to miss this year’s summer weather, this year’s Pitchfork, this year’s Lolla, this year’s Cardinals Cubs games down the street, and countless other events that make this City one of the greatest in the world.

Cheers Chicago!  We’ll miss you! But we have a world to see.

 

Planned Itinerary So Far…..

One of the great things about our trip is we already have plans to meet up with friends along the way.   By either visiting them as they live overseas, catching them at a conference, or having them meet up with us in a country they always wanted to visit.   In order to try to get even more people to join us, here is our rough itinerary we have planned.

April 7th – Leave on the NCL Epic from Port Canaveral, Florida (Ed’s parents, Henry and Luann join us here through Palma, Majorca)

April 22nd – Arrive in Barcelona, stay for a week

April 29th – Fly to Palma, Majorca, stay for 8 nights (Visiting Chrissy’s cousin Melissa here)

May 7th – Fly to Madrid and hang out there for a few nights until we catch a train to San Sebastian

May 17th – Fly to Lisbon for a week stay

May 24th – Fly to the Azores for 4 nights

May 28th – Fly to Porto for 3 nights

May 31st – Fly to Casablanca, Morocco to start a 15 day tour we are taking of Morocco with Intrepid Travel

June 15th – Fly to London for 10 days of City living, have a place rented in Brixton.

June 25th – We take the train out to London to ?????

Not sure where we will head after that in Europe but plan on just going where ever the wind takes us around Europe until early September where we have a flight out of Athens, Greece to change continents.  This part of Europe we will also be catching some friends that are moving to Basel, Switzerland, possibly meeting up with friends in Venice, along with a possible trip to Bulgaria with some other friends.

September 5th – Fly to Singapore overnight.   Our Anniversary is September 8th, that Saturday, so to celebrate we have a room booked that night at the Marina Bay Sands.  We will be enjoying cocktails at this pool for that day.

September 10th – Fly from Singapore to Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia.   We plan on relaxing in Indonesia for 3 weeks just traveling around the islands.   We have a planned week on Gili Air to become SSI certified for scuba but will just again bounce around where ever on the islands until September 29th.

September 29th – Fly to Darwin, Australia

October 6th – Fly to Sydney, Australia to meet up with Dr. Nick who will be at a conference.   We will spend the next month mostly in Australia, maybe a trip to Fiji, until the Melbourne Cup in Melbourne, Australia on November 6th.   It is the most famous horse race in Australia, know as “the race that stops a nation”.

After the race, we plan on heading to New Zealand for about a month.  Starting around early December we will make our way up to meet some other friends in Thailand by the end of the month.   The next 2 months will be SE Asia area eventually making our way to Hong Kong, China, and Japan in the spring.

We really don’t have much booked after our flight to Sydney but will do that while traveling.   We also don’t have a return trip booked to come back to the US yet.  The exact date we come back will come down to how good are we keeping to our budget.

If anyone has recommendations for us at any of our stops or any place we should add to our itinerary, please share!

Also, if you have a dream in traveling anywhere and would like to join us, please let us know.  We would love to see more friendly faces while traveling.

Welcome to Chrissy and Ed’s RTW Travel Blog featuring Danny the Dino

Hello everyone and welcome to what will hopefully be our regularly updated blog about our trip around the world.  We begin our adventure on April 7th leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida on a 15-day re-positioning cruise on the Norwegian Epic that will eventually drop us off in Barcelona.   We can’t wait to share our experience and hopefully provide some budget travel tips along the way.

Chrissy and Ed (and Danny)